Over on Safe From the Losing Fight, Andy Finnell posted about the wrong way to price iPhone apps, and I have to say that I agree.
If you look at the pricing for other phone apps on other mobile platforms, prices are much higher, enabling developers to at least stand a fighting chance to make a living. In particular, the apps on mobile phones usually are $4.95 or higher. On the Palm, a reasonably good Sodoku game runs around $9.99 or even higher. The same apps on the iPhone are either free or $0.99. How in the heck can a developer make a living doing that?
The real killer of pricing at $0.99 (or even $4.95) is that the support you can provide at that price is virtually nothing. Really the only thing you can do is write a web page with an FAQ. Answering that support e-mail actually costs you money if it ends up just being a “user error”, rather than a real bug.
Now, don’t get me wrong… You need to make sure your apps are as bug free as possible and getting reports from users is important, but at $0.99 answering questions for confused users that don’t understand how to use your application can kill a product, because you can spend all your time doing support, and not developing know apps.
Apple (and Sega) set expectations for what applications should be priced by making Monkey Ball $9.99. On any other mobile platform, a game like that would run between $19.99 and $24.99. I think developers are in the mindset, “Well, this thing isn’t as good as Monkey Ball….I have to price it lower”. But a year from now, how many of those people are still going to be around?